The RSC returns to the Barbican this autumn with ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’

The two acclaimed shows are the company’s first transfers to its old London home for years

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski
Theatre & Dance Editor, UK
RSC Barbican season 2024
Photo RSC

‘As the only national theatre organisation based outside of London, our relationship with the capital is vital,’ commented new Royal Shakespeare Company bosses Tamara Harvey and Daniel Evans in a statement to Time Out upon the announcement that the Stratford-upon-Avon-based theatre company will be transferring two of its hits to London this autumn and winter.

Although London has recently been graced with two seasons of the RSC’s enormously popular Studio Ghibli adaptation ‘My Neighbour Totoro’, plus various transfers of new writing to our smaller theatres – you can currently see the excellent ‘English’ at Kiln – we’ve has no Shakespeare plays coming down from Stratford since before the pandemic. And indeed, the company’s relationship with the Barbican remains somewhat ambiguous: until 2002 it was its permanent London base; since then it’s been frequently used by the company but there hasn’t been much sense of a coherent Stratford-to-London pipeline. 

That seems unlikely to change under Harvey and Evans, who affirm ‘we want to suit the play to the theatre, the theatre to the play, and perform all over town’. Long story short, the RSC will be returning to the Barbican this autumn with two acclaimed transfers: Emma Rice’s wildly acclaimed adaptation of Hanif Kureshi’s ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’, and Eleanor Rhodes’s much praised take on Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

That’s only really the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the RSC has staged since the pandemic alone, but there’s a focus on big, entertaining spectacle that should liven up the autumn. ‘Our focus is on giving our Barbican audiences a good night out, whether Shakespeare or new writing. It’s what our company does best - and these two productions are the perfect examples’ say Harvey and Evans.

‘The Buddha of Suburbia’ is at the Barbican Oct 22-Nov 16.

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream will follow Dec 3-Jan 18. Tickets for both go on sale Jul 9.

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Shakespeare plays in London.

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